Life with Dementia

20 Oct 14:00 by Richard

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There are over 850,000 living with in the UK with dementia today; with 225,000 new sufferers ever year. Although a diagnosis doesn’t necessarily spell the end of life itself, it does make a big difference when being diagnosed with Dementia. The uncertainty of what lies ahead can be as unsettling as the symptoms themselves.

When you are not aware, or not having any concrete guidance from doctors, symptoms are very likely to progress quicker. This is not only unsettling for the sufferer; but for loved ones as well, as they are faced with years of additional support and care.

Here are some practical tips for coping with memory problems

  • Break tasks down into individual steps
  • Use memory aids such as journals, to do lists and calendars
  • Put important items like keys and wallet/purse in the same place
  • Do challenging tasks early on in the day
  • Place important numbers near the phone
  • Keep a regular routine
  • Focus on one thing at a time
  • Label drawers and cupboards with important objects
  • Stay socialised, keep regular contact with family and friends
  • Keep the brain active – puzzles, reading, and problem solving

Feeling depressed is very common following a diagnosis and can affect a person’s coping skills and lead to the condition worsening as they become increasingly isolated.

There are a variety of options available for treating depression and anxiety, including medication and cognitive treatments. Treatment for mild mood disorders can involve talking therapies such as counselling, reminiscence activities and life story work.

Behavioural interventions
Attempt to identify and reduce the antecedents and consequences of problem behaviours. This approach has not shown success in the overall functioning of patients, but can help to reduce some specific problem behaviours, such as incontinence.  There is still a lack of high quality data on the effectiveness of these techniques in other behaviour problems such as wandering.

Emotion-oriented interventions
Include reminiscence therapy, validation therapy, supportive psychotherapy, sensory integration or snoezelen, and simulated presence therapy. Supportive psychotherapy has received little or no formal scientific study, but some clinicians find it useful in helping mildly impaired patients adjust to their illness. Reminiscence therapy (RT) involves the discussion of past experiences individually or in group, many times with the aid of photographs, household items, music and sound recordings, or other familiar items from the past. Although there are few quality studies on the effectiveness of RT it may be beneficial for cognition and mood. Simulated presence therapy (SPT) is based on attachment theories and is normally carried out playing a recording with voices of the closest relatives of the patient. There is preliminary evidence indicating that SPT may reduce anxiety and challenging behaviours. Finally, validation therapy is based on acceptance of the reality and personal truth of another’s experience, while sensory integration is based on exercises aimed to stimulate senses. There is little evidence to support the usefulness of these therapies.

Stimulation-oriented treatments
Include art, music and pet therapies, exercise, and any other kind of recreational activities for patients. Stimulation has modest support for improving behaviour, mood, and, to a lesser extent, function. Nevertheless, as important as these effects are, the main support for the use of stimulation therapies is the improvement in the patient daily life routine they suppose.

Cognition-oriented treatments
The aim of cognition-oriented treatments, which include reality orientation and cognitive retraining is the restoration of cognitive deficits. Reality orientation consists in the presentation of information about time, place or person in order to ease the understanding of the person about its surroundings and their place in them. On the other hand, cognitive retraining tries to improve impaired capacities by exercitation of mental abilities. Both have shown some efficacy improving cognitive capacities, although in some works these effects were transient and negative effects, such as frustration, have also been reported. Most of the programs inside this approach are fully or partially computerized and others are fully paper based such as the Cognitive Retention Therapy method.

In an ageing population, dementia will affect every one of us in some way.

If you are looking for a career supporting dementia sufferers, please send your CV (Homepage) and one of our consultants will be in touch to discuss temporary and permanent work opportunities.